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« Stirfry

Is court consolidation in Mahoning County imminent?

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


Published November 22, 2009

Lawyers in Mahoninig County are unanimous in their support of consolidating the court system in Mahoning County below the Common Pleas level. But, will that be enough to enable county Democratic Party Chairman David Betras, a lawyer, to get done what former party chairman, the late Don L. Hanni Jr., could not?

Considering that Hanni, one the leading criminal defense lawyers in the region, began discussing court consolidation more than two decades ago, the chances of such a change occurring any time soon are slim. There are too many people, especially judges, who are determined to maintain their financially lucrative jobs.

It doesn't matter how often the spotlight is trained on the four part-time county court judges who earn about $60,000 a year and receive full benefits, Or, how often the duplication in the system is highlighted. The bottom line is that the special interests — include politicians who control the pursestrings — will not let change occur. 

Betras is right in arguing that the current system is archiac, inefficient and a waste of money. But as he will soon find out, the advocates of the status quo have a lot of power.

Perhaps it will take all the lawyers in Mahoning County standing up and publicly criticizing the courts for the taxpayers to understand just how much of their money is being flushed down the criminal justice system.

 

 

 


Comments

1DavidBetras(18 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Bert

You will not "goad" me into this because of the late great Don Hanni. First the judges are good public servants. But the change must come from without and it will not happen from within. Having said that until and unless the Bar Association takes the lead not much can or will happen. It would be like changing a hospital without the input of the doctors. We do have a template and that is the common pleas court. There is one common pleas court in Mahoning County. Currently there are nine lower court judges in seven different locations. This with a dwindling population and an ever increasing scrutinizing public means we must think out of box and begin to show taxpayers we are willing to make the hard decisions.

All I know is that we have to do things differently the public demands it and our economic situations forces it upon us.

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2Tugboat(759 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I have a suggestion from 'without:' What would happen if everyone started obeying the law? Now there's a hard decision. Operations costs can be easily reduced and we could close a courtroom or two or three or four! And, maybe, less plea bargains and more serious cases going to trial. And some lawyers might have to work a second job. :-]

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3DavidBetras(18 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Oh this is a good solution. Ok attention everyone start obeying the law. Good idea.

As for plea bargains the systems costs would go through the roof without them.

Ok tugboat here is your ideas

1. Everyone start obeying the law
2. No plea bargains so "serious" cases also go to trial.
3. Lawyers don’t work hard enough.

You probably voted no on the tax and would not ever vote for it because nothing would satisfy you.

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4Tugboat(759 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

No, David, I voted 'for' the tax as I have been the last ten thousand times it has been on the ballot. Hearing about it is getting old. Permanent tax or not won't change the course of evolution.

"As for plea bargains the systems costs would go through the roof without them."

Yes, we know that. Funny how 'everyone obeying the law' seems to be a bad idea.

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5candystriper(575 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Lawyer: "Judge, I wish to appeal my client's case on the basis of newly discovered evidence."

Judge: "And what is the nature of the new evidence?"

Lawyer: "Judge, I discovered that my client still has $500 left."

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